Browser Wars

Web search giant Google surprised everyone — even those technology journalists who closely follow the industry — with its post-Labor Day announcement that it was releasing a Web browser. The distribution, called “Chrome,” has made waves thus far, but it remains to be seen whether it can break Microsoft’s seemingly indissoluble majority share of the browser market.

No doubt Redmond was surprised, if not disconcerted, by the news from Mountain View. But the folks at Mozilla — who recently released the third installment of Firefox, the world’s second-most popular Web browser after Microsoft’s Internet Explorer — might have been even more taken aback by this revelation. After all, Google and Mozilla have a long-standing partnership, to the point where the former has committed to advertising Firefox through 2011. The release of Chrome, though, could potentially strain this once-close relationship.

For its part, Google has maintained Chrome isn’t about competition with Explorer, Firefox, Opera or any other browser. The company’s official line is that it’s about making the Web better by giving users more options. To that end, Chrome’s open-source structure has been emphasized in Google’s promotions.

“We owe a great debt to many open source projects, and we’re committed to continuing on their path,” said Google Vice President of Product Management Sundar Pichai and Engineering Director Linus Upson in a blog posted on Labor Day. “[I]n that spirit, we are making all of our code open source as well. We hope to collaborate with the entire community to help drive…


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